10 Best Indie Games Of E3 2021

Bigger Isn't Always Better
E3 Indies

Over the last few days, we saw some great upcoming games on display during E3. You probably watched all of the major conferences – Xbox and Bethesda, Nintendo, Ubisoft, and other big studios. You were wowed by Starfield, got excited by the Guardians of the Galaxy world premier, and probably had a couple of ‘oh wow’ moments watching the BotW 2 update. Catherine has you covered if you want all of the big E3 announcements, but E3 isn’t just about the big boys. With so many showcases filled with indie games of every shape and size, it was hard to see everything E3 had to offer, and you probably missed at least one of the many showcases on tap. That’s ok, though, because I sat through them all, just for you. And while everyone has their own idea of what makes a good indie game, I waded through the hundreds of games to find the 10 best indie bangers on display during E3 2021.

Severed Steel

  • Developer: Greylock Studio
  • Release Date: TBA
  • Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Welcome to Severed Steel, a stylized first-person shooter in the same vein as Superhot. Run, jump, and kill anyone in your path as you traverse a neon-glazed destructible environment. Commanding the fluid stunt system and controlling the speed of the world with a bullet-time effect will help you avoid the incoming hail of bullets as your one-armed protagonist clears out each level of the campaign. Check out Severed Steel’s Steam page to pick up the updated demo today.

Loot River

  • Developer: straka.studio
  • Release Date: TBA
  • Platform(s): PC, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One

At first, I was all, “Oh great, another pixel art dungeon crawler” when I saw Loot River. Then I saw the developer use the moving platforms to break off a couple of enemies from the main pack to even the odds a little bit. Now I can’t wait to see all the cool ways I will be able to use the platforms to change the many fights of Loot River in my favor.

Serial Cleaner

  • Developer: Draw Distance
  • Release Date: July 14, 2017
  • Platform(s): PC, Nintendo Switch

Forget the mass chaos of games like Hotline Miami, Serial Cleaner lets you use your stealth skills as you clean up the aftermath of your newest client, a serial killer. As the Cleaner, you must avoid the police as you clean up the crime scene, removing bodies, blood, and anything other evidence that could link your client to the crime. 

Potion Craft

  • Developer: Niceplay Games
  • Release Date: TBA
  • Platform(s): PC

Crafting has been a part of MMOs and single player RPGs, but it’s always more about acquiring resources and then hitting the ‘craft’ button to make your goods appear. Potion Craft takes it all a step further, allowing you to become a master alchemist with full control of your own shop. Grow your own ingredients, learn and refine recipes, craft stronger potions on an ever-growing apparatus, then sell them for profit to your fellow townsfolk. 

BPM: Bullets Per Minute

  • Developer: Awe Interactive
  • Release Date: September 15, 2020
  • Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

This one is simple to explain. Take the crazy, fast-paced action of Doom and toss in a rhythm game. Shoot, jump, and dodge to the beat of an epic rock opera soundtrack; one missed note can be the end of your run. 

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Eternal Starlight

  • Developer: White Noise Game
  • Release Date: June 17, 2021
  • Platform(s): PC, Oculus Quest

While the itty bitty snippets of Homeworld Remastered, the first truly 3D RTS from the mid 90s, developer White Noise Games was proudly showing off Eternal Starlight, a tactical space combat game made for VR. Using your headset, you will gain an omniscient view of the battlefield. YInstead of conventional mouse and keyboard controls, you’ll use your hands to command the Terran fleet as you save humanity from alien invaders.

A Township Tale

  • Developer: Alta
  • Release Date: July 15, 2021
  • Platform(s): PC, Oculus Quest

I’ve long thought that VR is the next logical evolution for RPGs, and developer Alta is proving me right with A Township Tale. Similar to hits like Stardew Valley and My Time At Portia, A Township Tale adds the immersion only VR can bring to the resource gathering, crafting, and questing of other RPGs. Become a miner, woodcutter, blacksmith, and warrior as you virtually wield the tools of your trade to rebuild your town and head out into the world for adventure.

Hell Let Loose

  • Developer: Black Matter
  • Release Date: July 27, 2021
  • Platform(s): PC, Playstation 5, Xbox Series X|S

Hell Let Loose has been in early access for a while now, but developer Black Matter used E3 to announce their official release date of July 27. They also announced they would be adding Eastern Front battles upon launch and Next-Gen console support before the end of the year. In Hell Let Loose, you will engage in 50v50 battles involving infantry, tanks, and artillery as you try to push the front line and achieve victory for your side.

Lake

  • Developer: Gamious
  • Release Date: September 1, 2021
  • Platform(s): PC, Xbox One

Unlike many of the games on this list, Lake is a laid back adventure. Meredith Weiss has quit her successful career in the big city to return to her hometown of Providence Oaks. What happens next is up to you. Through the choose your own adventure story of Lake, you will take control of Meredith as she starts out on her new career as a mail carrier. Yes, I said mail carrier. You’ll make all of Meredith’s decisions for the day, from interacting with the townsfolk on her route to her after work activities. There may even be some romance if you play your cards correctly. No matter how your two weeks in Lake plays out, it is sure to be more relaxed than the hustle and bustle of the real world.

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Phantom Abyss

  • Developer: Team WIBY
  • Release Date: June 22, 2021 (early access)
  • Platform(s): PC

One part Indiana Jones, one part asynchronous multiplayer experience, Phantom Abyss is a hectic race through a trap-laden temple to collect the relic at the end. Each temple is procedurally generated; die and you’ll never get to try that temple again. When one player finally claims the relic, that temple will be locked forever.

Written by
Old enough to have played retro games when they were still cutting edge, Mitch has been a gamer since the 70s. As his game-fu fades (did he ever really have any?), it is replaced with ever-stronger, and stranger, opinions. If that isn't the perfect recipe for a game reviewer, what is?

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